Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Something interesting in development...

I have a bad feeling about all this, more about flags of convenience, and in the "a whole lot of kelp in our future" department...

One big issue I have with folks designing multihulls these days is that hardly anyone is thinking about smaller, more affordable cruising boats. 

If you get into your way-back machine, you'll see there was a pretty active trade in small affordable cruising cats with designs like the Heavenly Twins, Hirondelle, Prout Sirocco, Catalac, and Iroquois to name a few production cats. At the same time, just about every multihull designer around were designing 26-30 foot boats for home builders.

What happened?

The market is still there for smaller designs if the mail I get is any kind of indicator whenever I write about smaller multihull designs.

Now, I sorta/kinda understand why purveyors of cats and tris focus on big buck clients because they want the big bucks, and folks with lots of money want bragging right with their boats.

The why of what's keeping designers from designing smaller boats is a whole different thing. Designing for home builders has always been about stock plans. The idea is that if someone wants a specific type of boat and they hire a naval architect to design it, the rights to the design remain with the architect who can sell it as a stock plan for a lot less than it cost to come up with. A good example is when I commissioned Phil Bolger to design Loose Moose 2. I paid a large (to me at least) chunk of money to Phil to design the boat and afterwards Phil continued to sell the plans for about 10% of what I paid. 

The cool thing about stock plans is that for the designer, if done right, it's pretty much all profit for very little work because the design work has already been paid. For the buyer of stock plans, it's great because they are getting a good plan for 10% of what it would cost if they had commissioned the design directly with the naval architect.

So far so good.

The problem arises in that most folks who can afford to commission a design don't want a small cruising cat or tri, while the folks who do want one can't afford to commission. This leaves us with a few designers working on spec; 90% who work on spec are doing so to lure clients who want big expensive designs. Resulting in a whole lot of hungry designers drawing 50-foot condomarans on spec and leaving a big hole in the market where small affordable designs should be.

We're lucky that there are a few architects that are into their craft and art, rather than the big buck payoff.

Which is why I really like it when I get an email with a work in progress like this...

Michael Schacht has an interesting biplane cat design in development that has me excited. For starters, it's 26-feet and with about the same accommodation as a Wharram Tiki 30, with either a lug or junk rig.

I'll repeat that last part: lug or junk rig! Be still my foolish heart.

What's not to like?

Granted, not everyone is like me and groks just how great an open bridgedeck, biplane lug-rigged catamaran would be. It has it own character, aesthetic, and unlike what most people think a modern cat should look like. For those of that ilk, I'll point you to Michael's Ghibli design. It's well worth taking a look at.

I'll be watching the development of this new design closely and will share more info as I get it.

Listening to Crumb

So it goes...